This is a humble appeal to farmers to kindly consider following information, introspect, analyse and take considered opinion regarding why are they continuing to support their agitation regarding three farm laws enacted. First, the farm laws have had the chronological history of committees and after committees involving all stakeholders for more than two decades to make markets competitive by providing farmers a voluntary additional option to sell their produce beyond APMC in addition to APMC. They are: 29/6/2001: Shankerlal Guru Committee report on Strengthening and developing of agricultural marketing; 1/7/2001: MS Ahluwalia Report of Task force on employment opportunities; 4/7/2001: RCA Jain – Inter-ministerial Task force to look into Shankerlal guru committee recommendations; 9/9/2003: Model APMC Act, 2003 to reform APMCs; 29/12/2004: First report of Dr MS Swaminathan commission: National commission on farmers; 11/8/2005: Second Report of Dr MS Swaminathan Commission; Dec 2005: FAO report to Dr MS Swaminathan Commission : Towards an Indian common market: removal of restrictions on internal trade in agriculture commodities; 29/12/2005: Third Report of Dr MS Swaminathan commission; 13 /8/2006: Fourth Report of Dr MS Swaminathan commission; 4/9/2006: Fifth Report of Dr MS Swaminathan commission; 2010 and 2011 Letters from Sri Sharad Pawar, Union Min of Agriculture to expedite implementation of Model APMC Act 2003 to all Chief Ministers; Feb 2012: Economic survey 2011-12, 22/01/2013: Final report of committee of state ministers of agriculture marketing to promote reforms, chaired by Harshvardhan Patil; Feb 2013: Economic survey 2012-13, Feb 2014: Economic survey 2013-14, Feb 2015: Economic survey 2014-15; Feb 2015: Economic survey 2014-15; Aug 2017: Economic survey 2016-17; 3 Jan 2019: standing committee on agriculture (2018-2019), Ministry of agriculture and farmers welfare agriculture marketing and role of weekly gramin haats chaired by Hukmdev Yadav. The recommendations in the above committees largely were to increase market competitiveness by allowing farmers a voluntary option to sell their produce outside APMC system thereby enhancing competition and infrastructure.
Second, farmers were and are complaining that they have always been price takers and have been under the clutches of middleman and village local traders who as integrators buy the farm produce in village level and offer low prices and therefore farmers are unable to reap even 50% of consumer price due to superfluous middleman, undercover sales, improper weighment, illegal deductions and commission charges. In fact, these are the very reasons for enactment of farm laws to free the farmers from the clutches of the superfluous middleman. The Karnataka experiment clearly indicated that by allowing outsiders to compete with the APMCs, farmers realized at least 38% increase in the prices received in the market and that this benefit be extended to all farmers of the country. What is more crucial for the Government is to provide alternative credit facility for farmers who are planning to sell their produce outside APMCs. Currently around one third of the credit is offered by cooperatives, another 1/3 rd by Nationalized banks and the credit bap of the balance 1/3 rd needs to be met by Government.
Third, the marketed surplus of most food grains is at least 50 percent of their production. Therefore, farmers irrespective of their size are relatively more exposed to markets now than before. In India, an average trader is earning a net income of Rs. 6 lakhs per year while, an average farmer is earning an income of Rs. 74977 per year. This implies, for every one rupee earned by an average farmer, an average trader is earning an income of at least Rs Eight. Thus, a farmer who does agriculture for months together with great commitment merely gets paid just 12 percent of what a trader realizes in its marketing in a few days after harvest! In addition, most of the small traders do not have to pay GST as there is no GST up to Rs. 20 lakhs of turnover.
Fourth, ill-informed academics and leaders are themselves enjoying all the benefits of corporate products in their life style using gadgets such as cars, computers, mobiles, internet, whatsup, facebook, mixies, grinders, washing machines, cars, scooters, educating their sons and daughters in expensive schools and colleges within and abroad, while on the other hand denouncing these facilities to be enjoyed by farmers, are a sheer reflection of hypocrisy. On the one hand, enjoying all the benefits internally, wearing a socialistic mask, they are misleading farmers with wrong information about the new laws by allowing farmers to continue to be exploited by middleman in the markets in both produce and credit markets. Therefore, on the one hand to say inclusive growth, and on the other hand allow farmers to be exploited by middleman and traders in APMC markets is a paradox.
Fifth, the fond intention of the policy has been to enable farmers by doubling their farm income. Paradoxically, even though the crop productivity of most crops doubled, the income of farmers did not double due to several reasons. While traders / middleman is realizing eight times the income realized by farmers, and farmers by continuing to remain on original indifference curve are the exploited mass. And the main reason for this anomaly is that farmers are unable to receive greater share of the consumer rupee from APMC markets. Therefore, the new Act permitted farmers to choose to sell to any buyer of his/her choice if the farmer is able to realize higher prices than before.
Finally, the Supreme Court has already given a stay and paved for formation of a Committee to look into different aspects of suggestions by farmers. Moreover, the Government too has postponed the implementation by almost a year and a half. This should be the convincing ground for farmers for reconciliation. Hence the appeal.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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